Poor Tiger Woods. The guy just can't catch a break. He wins the PLAYERS Championship last week and most of the discussion this week has been about his drop on the 14th hole on Sunday and how awkward he looks hugging Linsey Vonn.
Granted, the picture does looks less like a hug and more like Vonn trying remove the price tag off the back of the shirt ... of his likeness at Madame Tussauds wax museum.
It doesn't take a pop-psychologist or even a real one to let you know Woods likely has some intimacy issues and may not be the best at social interactions. It's understandable. He's been in the spotlight since he was 2 years old on the Mike Douglas show with his father telling him he was essentially a Christ figure. Of course in many ways, it is what makes headlines like The Onion's "Victorious Tiger Woods: 'I Hit The Ball Well, My Life Is A Dark And Twisted Struggle, And I Made Some Good Putts' " so biting (like most Onion stories): the likely element of truth behind the joke.
Before we get to whether this matters, let's concede that while he may be the greatest player of all time, Tiger just can't hug. He seems to have mastered the awkward hug.
I couldn't have been the only one who noticed in the scoring tent that upon finding out they had won, his caddie Joe LaCava went for the bro-handshake but Tiger forced the awkward hug. Poor Linsey, the look of satisfaction hugging LaCava after the win compared to Vonn is stark.
Of course I'm sure we were also thinking that Tiger may have been hamming it up a bit as a poke at Steve Williams.
But Tiger's bad hugging isn't a couple isolated incidents. Tiger also went in for the awkward hug on Rory McIlroy after the Ryder Cup last year. Rory was celebrating Europe's victory and looking around for more people with whom to cheer. Again, McIlroy like LaCava goes for the bro-handshake but before he knew what hit him, Tiger was mauling him like he was a baby antelope with a bad hip.
[As a complete aside, if I'm showing awkward GIFs, it's impossible not to re-show this great one of Billy Payne whiffing the handshake with Bubba from the 2012 Masters]
But the real point is not Tiger's intimacy issues, his bad hugs (maybe he should start by saying "bring it in for the real the real thing" next time to ease any potential awkwardness), or his apparent blindness to certain social cues.
We shouldn't care. It doesn't matter that he cheated on his wife or that he can look so awkward in normal human interations we may take for granted. As the great baseball writer Roger Angell once said about athletes as role models: they are what they do.
We should cheer for (I acknowledge most wives excluded) and admire Tiger for his achievements, his ability to perform and his pursuit of excellence ... and nothing else.